Everyone is keen to understand how to have more influence. And why not? After all the age of command and control is behind us and designation alone is not enough to influence anyone or anything. I have been thinking about this topic this last week for good reason.
Late Friday evening, I was driving to a friend when my phone started feverishly blinking for attention. The twitter stream was buzzing with messages of congratulations and turns out I was in the the Top 10 HR influencer on social media (India) a list by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM – a global HR body) Some algorithm of followership, blogging, Klout score, relevance and impressions as calculated by a social media agency (Social Wavelength) had put me in this elite list. I was also in the top 3 women influencers. It was an honor to be even mentioned on the list let alone make top spot. I was indeed in the company of super heroes – thought leaders, change makers, c-suite professionals and more.
This got me thinking, what does it take to have influence – online and off? We would like to believe that people who influence are powerful and know answers that others don’t. They know how to be visible and make things happen. However while this may certainly explain some elements of influence does it explain all of it? Are there patterns beneath the surface that we are missing out on because we are so mesmerized by the inspiring people on such lists? ( I am in awe of many of them for sure !). While markers of influence (such as being on this list) is always a milestone, the idea of influence is not to be confused with recognition, because the latter adds to but is not at the root of influence.
Here are 3 ingredients I noticed are vital to influence:
1. Take a moment and think of people who have been influential in your own life. Chances are you likely thought of someone close like a parent or teacher than a celebrity of some sort (the latter is fine too). The common thing though in the people who we truly consider influential are the ones with whom we experience a certain resonance and who have allowed us to think differently or behave differently for the better. So a special ingredient of influence is the ability to make a difference to someone, somewhere. If you can make that difference, you are influential. We undermine ourselves by not recognizing the difference we can make to others if we just choose to. A leader has many touch points with their followers and it upto her/him to make the difference- no matter how small.
Now, to get more ”recognition” for that
influence require a set of strategies built
around personal branding and self leadership
that demand a level of dedication and a
deliberate approach. Influence is one thing,
amplification of influence is another
and recognition of influence
is a third. Ask yourself, where do you need to
do more work.
2. Also influence is not a solitary sport. Your connections amplify your influence by connecting you to other people. These connections allow you to learn and grow and enable your work to unfold at a pace that is not possible if you believe that you alone have the answers. Truth is no one has all the answers. Community is vital. It is said you become like the five people you most spend time with. For me that community has been #ihrchat – which remains Asia’s first trending twitter chat for leaders. Community for me is also the hundreds of women leaders whose leadership journey I enable at multiple levels. In enabling their journey, my own gets enabled as well for I learn from them and with them.
Curating your community and serving
it is one of the keys to growing your ability to
influence things that matter to you (and
them). What is your story ? What is their story?
Where does the story intersect ? That is
where you will find your influence range
3. And finally, why do you want influence? Is it because people can look at you and admire you? Then perhaps it will be a short lived influence. If you are not enabling anyone but yourself then that is not a strategy for lasting influence.
If success does not make you a kinder,
more generous and nicer version of who
you are, then it is not worth it. Infact, it
may even be deemed a failure.
One of my very favorite quotes is: Climb the highest mountain not so that the world can see you but that you can see the world. And might I add- help it become a better place.
The key to lasting influence is to have an agenda that goes beyond yourself. This requires a transformation in thinking which does not come easy to some but is certainly not impossible.
What do you think are the essential ingredients for influence?
Meanwhile here is a useful info graphic of the many forms of influence(rs) & how to engage with them. It might trigger a thought process on which way you want to head as you try and influence the world for the better.
Thank you for reading this post. If it resonated, do comment below as to what resonated. You can follow my posts by clicking the subscribe button or on twitter @tanvi_gautam
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